Certified Copy

Certified Copy ★★★★½

The last time Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami focused his lens so clearly on the blurred line between truth and fiction was his 1990 masterpiece Close-Up, about a man who pretends to be a famous filmmaker to gain access to and become part of a family. This time, for Certified Copy, it is copies versus originals, and it is a doozy. British author James Miller has come to an Italian town to discuss his new book, an argument that forgeries are no different than the originals they come from because what is important in determining their value is how they are perceived. An art dealer, played to perfection by Juliette Binoche, meets him after a book signing for a cup of coffee and they begin to argue about the points he raises. He steps out to take a phone call, and Binoche begins a conversation with the waitress, who believes them to be husband and wife, an idea Binoche does not disavow her of. From that point on, once he returns, the two of them begin to speak like husband and wife, switching language from English to French to Italian, when the very specific point was made earlier that Miller cannot speak any other language. Which is truth and which is fiction? Once they leave the coffee shop it matters not to the waitress, and ultimately what does it matter to the audience? Which do we want to be true? Kiarostami uses this couple to question the very nature of reality and perception, and does so quite remarkably, with long take tracking shots that show both of their reactions, including his trademark dashboard camera shot, with their arguments enveloped by the changing landscape in the rear window and in the vertical reflections of buildings on the windshield competing with their expressions. Yes this film requires some leap of faith, but it never ceases to amaze me how saying that is perfectly acceptable when we are watching giant robots punching each other into buildings, but induces eye-rolls when talking about a film that explores the nature of truth in reality, an essential question at the core of our very existence in an ever-changing world.